Red Sox

Patriots searching for consistency before facing Dolphins

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Patriots searching for consistency before facing Dolphins

FOXBORO -- It's a word that seems to rule the Patriots universe: consistency. Players who want to play need to show it. It can be heard in the soundbites provided to the media. And the team fosters it as much as possible with its schedule.

Lately, it's eluded the Patriots on the field. In Week 14, they beat one of the best teams in the NFL when the Texans came to Gillette Stadium. They lost to the Niners the following week after spotting a second-year quarterback a huge lead and responding with a remarkable comeback that fell short. Then they beat the Jaguars, but without playing close to their best game.

When the Patriots play the Dolphins on Sunday, their hope is that they can rediscover the consistency that's eluded them.

"We try to do that every week," Bill Belichick said on Wednesday. "This week, every week, the early part of the season, end of the season, middle of the season. Yeah, its always about consistency. I think you can look at every team in the league and find good plays and players doing things really well. These are professional football players: theyre very talented, they can do a lot of things. The good teams, the good players, they do them more consistently. Its not about talent as much as it is consistent performance teams and individual players. Its all connected."

Tom Brady echoed those same thoughts yesterday.

"I think its about playing consistent football and I think weve got to do a better job of that," Brady said. "It hasnt been as consistent as we would have liked, but weve still got a chance to improve it. And really, if were consistent this week, which I hope we are, thats ultimately whats going to help us win this game, not really what happened in the previous month or two months. Our goals are ahead of us and thats where were looking and thats the direction were heading in."

The rest of the Patriots know what their coach and quarterback are looking for, and they're trying to find it in the most obvious of places first.

"I think it just gives us reason to want to get better to go out there and practice hard and do what we need to do to get better," Wes Welker said today. "I think it's constantly us just trying to push each other in the right direction."

Vince Wilfork said that sometimes finding consistency is as easy as getting on the right track early, and letting it find you from there.

"We have to do a better job of starting games," he said. "We can play with anybody, we can play for 60 minutes, but there's just so much up and down. Part of that is how we start. We gotta do a better job of starting fast. That's gonna be the motto here from here on out: Start fast and finish strong. It's a good week to start this week. last week of the season, being at home, division game, against a team that's not gonna come in here and lay down."

However it happens, if the Patriots can find some consistency before the end of the regular season, it would be an opportune time for order to be restored to their football universe.

Playoff football awaits.

Werner: Red Sox feel pressure to keep up with Yankees, Astros

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Werner: Red Sox feel pressure to keep up with Yankees, Astros

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski may not be looking closely at the Yankees' and Astros' rosters, but chairman Tom Werner was on Friday.

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“Sure there’s pressure,” Werner said at Winter Weekend when asked about the Yankees’ pick-up of Giancarlo Stanton and the Astros’ addition of Gerrit Cole.  “Houston was formidable last year. I thought we played them competitively in Fenway Park. They’ve obviously improved. But if we have the kind of performances I expect from some of our players this year — obviously we’re looking for some more improvement from certain players. Hopefully, a healthy David Price will be very important to that. 

"I think we have an excellent team, but anything can happen in a short series. The Yankees have improved, there’s no question about it. They have a deep bullpen and a great offense. But I like our chances.”

At the Boston baseball writers awards dinner on Thursday, Sox president Sam Kennedy cracked a joke about Dombrowski presenting Yankees general manager Brian Cashman with an Apple Watch as a gift.

“I’m sure that when Judge and Stanton come to Fenway Park this year, it’ll be electric,” Werner said.

It’s not exactly an offseason punch-for-punch dynamic with the Sox and Yankees, though, as it was circa 2003-04.

“Not specifically,” Werner said of countering Stanton. “It’s important for us to be competitive with them, but we’re not trying to play chess with them.”

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Red Sox notes: Yawkey Way cannot be named for living person

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Red Sox notes: Yawkey Way cannot be named for living person

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Yawkey Way will not become David Ortiz Way, for those who may have been holding out hope for the street to be renamed after him, or any other recent star.

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“We’ve talked about several different names,” Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said on Friday evening at Winter Weekend at Foxwoods. “There’s been talk about the possibility of returning to what the original name was, which was Jersey Street. It’s been made clear in our research and due diligence that you can’t currently petition for a living person when there’s other property owners on the street. There’s a provision that allows you to petition for a name of a living person if there aren’t other property abbuters on the street. So living person is out of the question. So we’ve had a few different ideas, but we’re not quite there yet.”

Kennedy said the Sox are in conversations with the city and neighboring property owners on Yawkey Way about renaming the street. 

“We have to have a sponsor of our petition, so we’re engaged in those discussions right now and would anticipate a petition being filed,” Kennedy said. “The mayor has been terrific and his staff understand our desire to formally petition, but we’ve got to get a resolution on a few logistical items — like a name, for one — that we’re going to formally petition for.”

A next step could come within a couple weeks, although Kennedy wasn’t firm about that timeline.

“But I’ve said that before, and it’s just a lot of behind the scenes steps that you have to take getting formal approvals from property owners and elected officials,” Kennedy said. “The club can petition for the name and then ultimately as John Henry said back in August, [it’s] a public process. … it’s our decision to request a name.”

• More netting is coming to Fenway to protect fans from batted balls and such.

“Before 2016, we expanded to the inside wall of the dugouts and we’re going to beyond that in 2018,” Kennedy said. “All the way down to about Field Box 79 down the left field line, and then all the way down to almost canvas alley in the Field Box 9 area. So we’re still finalizing the exact dimensions, but it will be a dramatic expansion of our netting … beyond the dugout down the third base line and the first base line.”

  • Sox chairman Tom Werner supports pace of play initiatives, and said he’s heard from Red Sox players who support it as well — even though the players union decided to shoot down a proposal from the league, per The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal. MLB can unilaterally make changes but ideally, the union and league would come to an agreement together.
     

“As you know the commissioner is having ongoing talks with Tony Clark and the union,” Werner said. “I think it’s pretty clear that there’s too much dead time in the game. And as I’ve said, it’s really not about pace of play but like trying to have less dead time. Last year the average game, the time was higher than it’s ever been in history. And I think we have talked about some common sense ideas. We’re not the only league as you know who is looking at dead time. 

“But just for an example, I think that to have the managers or the catchers go up, or the second baseman just be able to talk to the pitcher whenever they want, we should address that. So we’ve addressed a pitch clock in the minor leagues. I think it’s working. But I’m hopeful certainly that the union and owners will come together on this. Because I think it’s something that the fans are expecting.”

  • Sox ticket sales are not doing quite as well as they were a year ago, Kennedy said. 
     

"We’re very healthy and humbled by the fan support,” Kennedy said. “We sold [out Winter Weekend] faster than ever before, about three weeks. There will be between 6,000 and 7,000 people here, which is really a testament to Red Sox fans. You’ve got an unbelievable sports market as we all know with the Patriots and what they’re doing, the Bruins and Celtics at the top of their games. 

“We’ve got people buying tickets [for games] at a pace consistent with 2015 and 2016. We are slightly down from last year, I think there was a big bump from Chris Sale, understandably, so about 6 percent down from last year, which is understandable given it’s been a very slow moving offseason in terms of baseball news. But we continue to be grateful and humbled by the support we get.”

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